Posts Tagged ‘Dehydration’

Crawford Road

Crawford Road (Photo credit: kevincollins123)

When you spend most of your day in the bathroom, heaving up the crackers and ginger ale your mother just knew would make you feel better, it’s difficult to look on the bright side of things. When you have hyperemesis gravidarum, you barely have strength to get to the toilet let alone summon the energy needed to vomit for the tenth time that day. As if the constant nausea and hyper salivation weren’t enough, you’re saddled with common pregnancy complaints: swelling, back pain, perhaps carpal tunnel in your wrists. No one understands why you’ve isolated yourself from the world, no one understands that you’ve already tried every form of ginger and anti-nausea wives tale that exists. Hyperemesis gravidarum makes it impossible to see any silver lining in the cloud of nausea that follows you 24/7.

And yet… is there a bright side? When you’re fighting a chronic condition like hyperemesis gravidarum, it’s nearly impossible to remove yourself from the debilitating condition you’re in. I encourage you to try, even for a miniscule moment, to push aside how you feel and think about your future. When the baby comes, this illness will go away. You have hope. There is a light ahead of you. You have to battle through the darkness to get there, but there is no other disease I can think of that offers a happy ending like hyperemesis gravidarum.  When you deliver your child, you will have conquered your foe. There is no other ending.

So today, my sisters in suffering, try your best to keep the future in mind. Yes, your body is dragging you down and telling you that something is terribly wrong. Yes, everything hurts and you feel miserable and this isn’t the pregnancy experience you had imagined. Accept those things and focus on the road ahead. It’s dark, difficult, and lonely. It’s not easy. But that road leads to a beauty and joy that has the power to erase the suffering you’re enduring. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and believe.

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Writer's Block

With hyperemesis gravidarum in the news, I’ve been feeling convicted to share my journey. However, this is easier said than done. For a while I’ve known that I need to share more than the snippets I’ve included on this blog. So why have I hesitated?

It’s more than writer’s block. It’s fear. If I put my hyperemesis gravidarum pregnancy into words, it suddenly makes the nightmare that was last year more real. Writing my story means reaching inside, waking a person who wants to  hit the snooze button just a little longer. I’ve talked about those months plenty, but writing is somehow more real, more honest, more raw.

Not only does hyperemesis gravidarum damage your body, it devastates your emotional being. It takes time to heal. Perhaps writing my story will help. Until I’m ready to face that task, I’ll continue to offer encouragement to anyone who is struggling.

Today, dear sisters in suffering, that encouragement is written by Amber, a fellow hg survivor. It is these stories like these that helped me hold on during my pregnancy, and I am hoping that her words help you as well. Please read her story, and let me know if you have a story you’d like to share.

Family of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Family of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hooray! The media is finally talking about hyperemesis gravidarum. As is common these days, it took a celebrity to bring an issue to the public eye. Like many, I’m excited to hear the ‘royal’ news. Yet the news that Kate Middleton is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum does not make me happy.

I’ve often thought that I wouldn’t wish this condition on my worst enemy.  But I’ve never thought about someone I like encountering hyperemesis gravidarum. I don’t know her, but I do like the Kate Middleton I know through the media. As I’ve read report after report of her big news, I’ve wondered how she’s coping. Being pregnant isn’t easy. Being a celebrity isn’t easy. Those two factors added together make for a difficult time. Add hyperemesis gravidarum to the mix and she’s facing a rough nine months. I know she’ll receive good care and plenty of rest (she is carrying the heir, after all). But even with the best care, she’ll still feel like she’s dying. She’ll still feel nauseous. And she’ll still deal with the sad fact that there is no cure for hyperemesis gravidarum.

So what would I say to Kate if I had the chance to write her a letter? After a heart-felt congratulations, I’d tell her to be strong. I’d encourage her to get in touch with her inner survivor, because she’s going to need every part of herself to face the next few months. And lastly, I’d convey to her how entirely worthwhile the fight for your child will be. I would share with her what washed over me tonight as I rocked my little one to sleep: the misery of hyperemesis gravidarum is worth tremendous gift that awaits you at the end.

What advice would you give Cate if you had the chance?

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Cover of "Bad Hair Day (All Aboard Readin...

Cover of Bad Hair Day (All Aboard Reading)

I have a confession: this is the second day in a row that I haven’t brushed my hair. Am I embarrassed? Maybe a little. But my life as an equation = newborn, + full-time job + housework. Added up, and I find a deficit of time to take care of things.

As I thought about my hair, pulled together atop my head in what my wishful thinking brain hopes is a sophisticated, bohemian-type bun, I recalled this time last year, when I was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. I had just started experiencing vaso-vagal episodes (fainting), carpal and tarsal tunnel, and the never-ending excess saliva induced vomiting sessions. My life was miserable.

Sure, I had hope. I understood that the hyperemesis gravidarum would eventually go away. I could feel my child’s little kicks and smile at the thought of holding him in my arms. But when you’re a dehydrated, medicated, vomiting mess, it’s hard to be happy. I had no choice but to stop caring about my hair, clothes, and housework. What was important was to find a way to get through each day so that I could deliver a healthy child.

If you’re at this point, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Many women understand how you feel. How do you deal? Grit your teeth, dig your feet in, and hold on. Push away the worry over your hair, the yoga pants you’ve been wearing since last week, and the spit bucket near your bed. It’s not easy to let go but you’re struggling with a serious medical condition. Think about what’s truly important, dear hg mama, and focus on that. You’ll have plenty of time to worry about your hair after the baby is born. Maybe.

Just Do It | Nike x Lau

Just Do It | Nike x Lau (Photo credit: achimh)

This morning, I saw a t-shirt that inspired the heck out of me. It was a Nike shirt that said, “Just do it: Every Damn Day.” I don’t often swear, but as someone who has survived the living hell of hyperemesis gravidarum, I could connect with the sentiment behind this slogan.

Unfortunately, when you have hyperemesis gravidarum, you have no choice but to just do it. Every day. However, we do have a choice about how we respond to this condition. There is no way to sugar-coat it: hyperemesis gravidarum stinks. It’s debilitating, painful, worrying, and just plain depressing. Yes, it goes away. Yes, you will have a wonderful child. But while you’re in the midst of it, it’s really hard to think of the positive outcome.

When I was at my worst while pregnant, I felt that my standard of living dropped significantly. The house was a mess, I struggled to get out of bed, and I had no relationships with my friends anymore. The isolation was rough. I found my mindset changed from thriving to surviving. Forcing myself to eat- when I knew it would probably come back up later. Forcing myself to take medicine- even though I was scared it would affect my child. Forcing myself to keep going- the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life. And for me, surviving was just doing it—trying my best to take care of myself and my unborn child. Every damn day.

Home made macaroni and cheese, with some dried...

Home made macaroni and cheese, with some dried herbs and grounded pepper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, you know exactly what I mean by that title. The gnawing hunger, the unrelenting nausea, the dream of food…

When I was pregnant, I tortured myself by watching episodes of Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, and Master Chef (I think I might have a bit of a crush on Gordon Ramsey). I would be desperate for something substantial, like a turkey sandwich, but I knew that not long after I would eat the food would come right back up again. It is because of hyperemesis gravidarum that I have lost any desire for macaroni and cheese, spinach, or pop tarts. Some things are just not pleasant to throw up.

Looking back, I don’t know how I survived. I felt so malnourished. Most of what I ate consisted of mush like cream of wheat, applesauce, or, if it was a good day, potato chips. I went through phases where things like sour candies, V-8 juice, or ice chips where the only things I could keep down. On one happy day, I was able to manage an ice cream cone without vomiting.

Both my body and mind were drained of energy. I obsessively thought one sentence over and over: something is seriously wrong. On days when I could keep down a chewable vitamin, I felt a little better. Most days the idea of vitamins made my stomach turn sour. I am amazed that my child survived, even thrived, on the little nutrients I provided him.

Having barely survived this frustrating aspect of hyperemesis gravidarum, I find it hard to offer advice. What worked for me may not work for you. It’s scary to “try” new foods in the hope that you’ll be able to keep them down. No one wants to experiment when the very real threat of vomit is part of the consequences one might suffer. And no one wants to hear the classic Saltines and ginger ale standard. The best I can do is this: remind you that this will end, encourage you to stick to what works (think bland, bland, bland), and tell you not to give up. On good days, try something with a little bit of nutrients. On bad days, keep up with the liquids the best you can.

And if you’re in the mood to do a little research, check out the University of Arizona’s Health Services site, which offers a “bland diet” page. The only problem with their list is that it includes macaroni and cheese. Ugh.
P.S. What foods can you keep down? Share your favorites with others by posting a comment below.

Jocelyn Maminta and I after shooting a commercial for the Connecticut Office of the Healthcare Advocate.

The humidity was high, the rain pelted down, and my hair wasn’t perfect, but I had an opportunity to share my story with others and so I was happy.

Let’s step back a year and a few months to when I was expecting. On top of being diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, I faced an enormous task: fighting for coverage from my insurance company. Just about every day would bring another bill or explanation of benefits (or lack thereof) statement. At the time, I felt like I was physically dying. I couldn’t keep much food or liquid down, and I was beyond worried that my child wasn’t going to survive. Struggling with insurance issues on top of this illness was too much.

One of my doctors suggested I contact the Connecticut Office of the Healthcare Advocate. Within days, they were helping me deal with the pile of bills and claim denials. It was such a miracle to my husband and I, as we were both overwhelmed. Once they stepped in, I was able to focus on resting and taking care of my unborn child.

A month ago, I was asked if I would like to be in a commercial to help spread awareness about their office. I was excited to be able to share my story, and my wonderful little baby Billy, with the state of Connecticut.

Yesterday, a crew came to my house to interview me for the spot. I was a little nervous, but Emmy-nominated reporter Jocelyn Maminta from WTNH Channel 8 guided me through the process. No stranger to difficult pregnancies herself, I was saddened to hear the story of her daughter Caroline, who was born prematurely and died after two months in neonatal intensive care. Her parents created a foundation in her honor called Caroline’s Room, which aims to create a place in neonatal intensive care units where families can go to find peace, privacy, and comfort.

While the focus of the commercial is the wonderful work of the Connecticut Healthcare Advocate’s Office, I was also eager to speak about hyperemesis gravidarum. Until I was diagnosed with this condition, I had no idea that it even existed. Only 2% of pregnant women in the U.S. are diagnosed with hg, although more suffer through pregnancy undiagnosed. Many in the medical community misunderstand the condition, claiming that a woman is makes herself ill because subconsciously she does not really want her child.

There are few things more difficult than a chronic health condition. Surviving hyperemesis gravidarum was the most difficult and worthwhile thing I have ever done. If this commercial can help just one person—with insurance issues or hg—then I will be happy.

P.S. What would you do to let others know about hg? Give me some ideas by posting a comment below.